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Compaq exec says copper Alpha in '99

Who's playing hardball in the Samsung talks then?

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Pointed remarks about copper and Alpha can only mean that negotiations over the chip's future ownership have reached the hardball phase. As reported here a few days ago Compaq is in talks with Samsung with a view to offloading the whole shebang, but a senior Alpha executive has been talking in terms that make IBM sound the more likely future partner. Does Compaq want Samsung to move faster, pay more, or both? The crux of the matter is that Alpha marketing director Jim Parsons has been telling journalists Compaq wants to move Alpha to copper interconnect in the 1999-2000 timeframe, at the 0.18 micron stage. Alpha is currently fabbed by Intel and Samsung, but neither of them wants to go to copper this early, in that size. Which leaves IBM as the only obvious company whose fabbing could support the move. Compaq has been talking to IBM about fabbing Alpha for some time, but the possibility of a better offer from Samsung has given the company two directions it could jump in. By talking about an early move to copper Parsons is effectively suggesting that an IBM deal could still roll, while putting pressure on Samsung's negotiators. We'd therefore expect this one to come to a conclusion pretty soon, and wouldn't altogether rule out a scenario where Compaq offloaded Alpha, and both IBM and Samsung picked up the ball. ®

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